Yukon Teens Connect with the Past

Teens are not known for their love of history, but at least one Yukon museum is trying to change that.

The MacBride Museum of Yukon History may have a traditional log-cabin exterior, but there are exciting new developments inside — many of them popular with youth.

“Teenagers have a lot of different choices on how to spend their time,” says Keith Halliday, MacBride Museum chair, and father of four. “It can be an uphill battle for museums.”

The MacBride, however, has been engaging young people by offering a wide variety of exhibits, special events, and programs beyond the usual school visits.

Recently, the museum created a crowd-pleasing exhibit on the history of softball in the Yukon; worked with Norway to put on an exhibit on famed Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen; and hosted an event called History meets Mystery with visiting authors Vicki Delany and Barbara Fradkin.

“Our Hockey Day in Canada program last year was really popular,” Halliday says. “The museum put on a retrospective of hockey in Whitehorse going back to the early 1900s, and we had some really neat photos. And to this day, no one has ever beat One-Eyed Frank McGee’s eight goals in eight minutes.”

The museum’s Yukon Books series connects younger teens with the territory’s history. Halliday wrote the series of four-book for youth eight to 14 year olds, but the stories — which explore the Klondike Gold Rush among other eras — have much broader appeal.

“They’re historical adventure novels, with fictional characters and a little extra spice from the tales I heard around the woodstove growing up,” he says. “I hear that parents and teachers enjoy them as much as the kids.”

In May, the MacBride launched the Interpreter tablet, created by Yukon-based Mid-Arctic Technologies. Visitors carry around hand-held devices and scan a small tag as they look at exhibits. This allows them to access additional information, images, audio and video.

“It lets us tell Yukon stories in a new way and enriches the exhibit,” says Halliday. “People – especially young people who are used to tablets – find it a fun and easy way to get more details. At the launch I could see them smiling and looking around at everything as they used it.”

And parents from around the world can bring get their kids engaged with Yukon history using the tablets – they function in 48 languages.

Beyond the four walls of the museum, summer visitors can pan for real Klondike gold and hear the truth behind the legendary Sam McGee. The museum will also provide guided tours on the S.S. Klondike.

For more information and to contact the museum, go to www.MacBrideMuseum.com

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